Killing and Empire

The Anti-Empire Report

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

— Voltaire

Question: How many countries do you have to be at war with to be disqualified from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize?

Answer: Five. Barack Obama has waged war against only Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. He’s holding off on Iran until he actually gets the prize.

Somalian civil society and court system are so devastated from decades of war that one wouldn’t expect its citizens to have the means to raise serious legal challenges to Washington’s apparent belief that it can drop bombs on that sad land whenever it appears to serve the empire’s needs. But a group of Pakistanis, calling themselves “Lawyers Front for Defense of the Constitution,” and remembering just enough of their country’s more civilized past, has filed suit before the nation’s High Court to make the federal government stop American drone attacks on countless innocent civilians. The group declared that a Pakistan Army spokesman claimed to have the capability to shoot down the drones, but the government had made a policy decision not to.1

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, behaves like the world is one big lawless Somalia and the United States is the chief warlord. On October 20 the president again displayed his deep love of peace by honoring some 80 veterans of Vietnam at the White House, after earlier awarding their regiment a Presidential Unit Citation for its “extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry.”2 War correspondent Michael Herr has honored Vietnam soldiers in his own way: “We took space back quickly, expensively, with total panic and close to maximum brutality. Our machine was devastating. And versatile. It could do everything but stop.”3

What would it take for the Obamaniacs to lose any of the stars in their eyes for their dear Nobel Laureate? Perhaps if the president announced that he was donating his prize money to build a monument to the First — “Oh What a Lovely” — World War? The memorial could bear the inscription: “Let us remember that Rudyard Kipling coaxed his young son John into enlisting in this war. John died his first day in combat. Kipling later penned these words:

    “If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

“The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature.” — James Madison, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 2, 1798.

A wise measure, indeed, but one American president after another has dragged the nation into bloody war without the approval of Congress, the American people, international law, or world opinion. Millions marched against the war in Iraq before it began. Millions more voted for Barack Obama in the belief that he shared their repugnance for America’s Wars Without End. They had no good reason to believe this — Obama’s campaign was filled with repeated warlike threats against Iran and Afghanistan — but they wanted to believe it.

If machismo explains war, if men love war and fighting so much, why do we have to compel them with conscription on pain of imprisonment? Why do the powers-that-be have to wage advertising campaigns to seduce young people to enlist in the military? Why do young men go to extreme lengths to be declared exempt for physical or medical reasons? Why do they flee into exile to avoid the draft? Why do they desert the military in large numbers in the midst of war? Why don’t Sweden or Switzerland or Costa Rica have wars? Surely there are many macho men in those countries.

“Join the Army, visit far away places, meet interesting people, and kill them.”

War licenses men to take part in what would otherwise be described as psychopathic behavior.

“Sometimes I think it should be a rule of war that you have to see somebody up close and get to know him before you can shoot him.” — Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H

“In the struggle of Good against Evil, it’s always the people who get killed.” — Eduardo Galeano

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a Taliban leader declared that “God is on our side, and if the world’s people try to set fire to Afghanistan, God will protect us and help us.”4

“I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.” — George W. Bush, 2004, during the war in Iraq.5

“I believe that Christ died for my sins and I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis.” — Barack Obama.6

Why don’t church leaders forbid Catholics from joining the military with the same fervor they tell Catholics to stay away from abortion clinics?

God, war, the World Bank, the IMF, free trade agreements, NATO, the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, “anti-war” candidates, and Nobel Peace Prizes can be seen as simply different instruments for the advancement of US imperialism.

Tom Lehrer, the marvelous political songwriter of the 1950s and 60s, once observed: “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” Perhaps each generation has to learn anew what a farce that prize has become, or always was. Its recipients include quite a few individuals who had as much commitment to a peaceful world as the Bush administration had to truth. One example currently in the news: Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres which won the prize in 1998. Kouchner, now France’s foreign secretary, has long been urging military action against Iran. Last week he called upon Iran to make a nuclear deal acceptable to the Western powers or else there’s no telling what horror Israel might inflict upon the Iranians. Israel “will not tolerate an Iranian bomb,” he said. “We know that, all of us.”7 There is a word for such a veiled threat — “extortion”, something normally associated with the likes of a Chicago mobster of the 1930s … “Do like I say and no one gets hurt.” Or as Al Capone once said: “Kind words and a machine gun will get you more than kind words alone.”

The continuing desperate quest to find something good to say about US foreign policy

Not the crazy, hateful right wing, not racist or disrupting public meetings, not demanding birth certificates … but the respectable right, holding high positions in academia and in every administration, Republican or Democrat, members of the highly esteemed Council on Foreign Relations. Here’s Joshua Kurlantzick, a “Fellow for Southeast Asia” at CFR, writing in the equally esteemed and respectable Washington Post about how — despite all the scare talk — it wouldn’t be so bad if Afghanistan actually turned into another Vietnam because “Vietnam and the United States have become close partners in Southeast Asia, exchanging official visits, building an important trading and strategic relationship and fostering goodwill between governments, businesses and people on both sides. … America did not win the war there, but over time it has won the peace. … American war veterans publicly made peace with their old adversaries … A program [to exchange graduate students and professors] could ensure that the next generation of Afghan leaders sees an image of the United States beyond that of the war.”8 And so on.

On second thought, this is not so much right-wing jingoism as it is … uh … y’know … What’s the word? … Ah yes, “pointless.” Just what is the point? Germany and Israel are on excellent terms … therefore, what point can we make about the Holocaust?

As to America not winning the war in Vietnam, that’s worse than pointless. It’s wrong. Most people believe that the United States lost the war. But by destroying Vietnam to its core, by poisoning the earth, the water, the air, and the gene pool for generations, the US in fact achieved its primary purpose: it left Vietnam a basket case, preventing the rise of what might have been a good development option for Asia, an alternative to the capitalist model; for the same reason the United States has been at war with Cuba for 50 years, making sure that the Cuban alternative model doesn’t look as good as it would if left in peace.

And in all the years since the Vietnam War ended, the millions of Vietnamese suffering from diseases and deformities caused by US sprayings of the deadly chemical “Agent Orange” have received from the United States no medical care, no environmental remediation, no compensation, and no official apology. That’s exactly what the Afghans — their land and/or their bodies permeated with depleted uranium, unexploded cluster bombs, and a witch’s brew of other charming chemicals — have to look forward to in Kurlantzick’s Brave New World. “If the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan eventually resembles the one we now have with Vietnam, we should be overjoyed,” he writes. God Bless America.

One further thought about Afghanistan: The suggestion that the United States could, and should, solve its (self-created) dilemma by simply getting out of that god-forsaken place is dismissed out of hand by the American government and media; even some leftist critics of US policy are reluctant to embrace so bold a step — Who knows what horror may result? But when the Soviet Union was in the process of quitting Afghanistan (during the period of May 1988-February 1989) who in the West insisted that they remain? For any reason. No matter what the consequences of their withdrawal. The reason the Russians could easier leave than the Americans can now is that the Russians were not there for imperialist reasons, such as oil and gas pipelines. Similar to why the US can’t leave Iraq.

Washington’s eternal “Cuba problem” — the one they can’t admit to

“Here we go again. I suppose old habits die hard,” said US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, on October 28 before the General Assembly voted on the annual resolution to end the US embargo against Cuba. “The hostile language we have just heard from the Foreign Minister of Cuba,” she continued, “seems straight out of the Cold War era and is not conducive to constructive progress.” Her 949-word statement contained not a word about the embargo; not very conducive to a constructive solution to the unstated “Cuba problem,” the one about Cuba inspiring the Third World, the fear that the socialist virus would spread.

Since the early days of the Cuban Revolution assorted anti-communists and capitalist true-believers around the world have been relentless in publicizing the failures, real and alleged, of life in Cuba; each perceived shortcoming is attributed to the perceived shortcomings of socialism — It’s simply a system that can’t work, we are told, given the nature of human beings, particularly in this modern, competitive, globalized, consumer-oriented world.

In response to such criticisms, defenders of Cuban society have regularly pointed out how the numerous draconian sanctions imposed by the United States since 1960 have produced many and varied scarcities and sufferings and are largely responsible for most of the problems pointed out by the critics. The critics, in turn, say that this is just an excuse, one given by Cuban apologists for every failure of their socialist system. However, it would be very difficult for the critics to prove their point. The United States would have to drop all sanctions and then we’d have to wait long enough for Cuban society to make up for lost time and recover what it was deprived of, and demonstrate what its system can do when not under constant assault by the most powerful force on earth.

In 1999, Cuba filed a suit against the United States for $181.1 billion in compensation for economic losses and loss of life during the first 39 years of this aggression. The suit held Washington responsible for the death of 3,478 Cubans and the wounding and disabling of 2,099 others. In the ten years since, these figures have of course all increased. The sanctions, in numerous ways large and small, make acquiring many kinds of products and services from around the world much more difficult and expensive, often impossible; frequently, they are things indispensable to Cuban medicine, transportation or industry; simply transferring money internationally has become a major problem for the Cubans, with banks being heavily punished by the United States for dealing with Havana; or the sanctions mean that Americans and Cubans can’t attend professional conferences in each other’s country.

These examples are but a small sample of the excruciating pain inflicted by Washington upon the body, soul and economy of the Cuban people.

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah.” We don’t hear much of that any more. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the General Assembly on the resolution, which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone:

Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2004 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau

How it began, from State Department documents: Within a few months of the Cuban revolution of January 1959, the Eisenhower administration decided “to adjust all our actions in such a way as to accelerate the development of an opposition in Cuba which would bring about a change in the Cuban Government, resulting in a new government favorable to U.S. interests.”9

On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”10 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo.

  1. The Nation (Pakistan English-language daily newspaper), October 10, 2009. []
  2. Washington Post, October 20, 2009. []
  3. Michael Herr, Dispatches (1991), p.71. []
  4. New York Daily News, September 19, 2001. []
  5. Washington Post, July 20, 2004, p.15, citing the New Era (Lancaster, PA), from a private meeting of Bush with Amish families on July 9. The White House denied that Bush had said it. (Those Amish folks do lie a lot you know.) []
  6. Washington Post, August 17, 2008. []
  7. Daily Telegraph (UK), October 26, 2009. []
  8. Washington Post, October 25, 2009. []
  9. Department of State, “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba” (1991), p.742. []
  10. Ibid., p.885 []

William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. He can be reached at: bblum6@aol.com. Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 5th, 2009 at 10:07am #

    Rewarding obama with nobel peace prize actually amounts to recognition of US as being an peace activist.
    Actually, norwegian fundamentalists or cultists, must think that by attacking and kiling so many muslims, US is a peace maker?!
    Since executive branch of governance functions under or with a constitution; under which judiciary, armed services, senate, and house, cia, fbi, ‘education’, media also act, giving obama the peace prize is giving the prize to the biggest killer empire post ww2.
    Anent US constitution it appears to have been put together so that a prez cannot ever be wrong no matter what he does against an alien pop.
    Well, sargon, the king of akkad and ruler of the four corners of the know2n world {as is a prez now} was also divine just like kennedy, wilson, et al.
    A prez is not divine only if he cheats on his wife, but, nevertheless, has to be caught at it! tnx

  2. Michael Kenny said on November 5th, 2009 at 1:39pm #

    Pour Mr Blum! He always falls hook, line and sinker for US media propaganda! That old horse chestnut abot Kouchner “urging war against Iran” dates back to a single occasion in 2007 (Google it!) when he predicted (wrongly!) that Bush was going to attack Iran. Israel Lobby propagandists did the rest. As for the Telegraph article from which Mr Blum has cherry-picked the quotes (Google it!), how can A saying that B might attack C be hyped into a “veiled threat” to B or “extortion” on the Part of A? Moreover, the article starts with the words “Bernard Kouchner stressed the urgency of reaching agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme …” Not much war urging there! Quite the contrary, in fact! The quotes are “why we must decrease the tension and solve the problem” No war there either! As for economic sanctions, “Mr Kouchner made clear his personal scepticism”. And “said the priority was still “dialogue” and “he would be reluctant to impose them”. “We are not for the time being looking for sanctions”. Not much urging to war there!

  3. Frank said on November 5th, 2009 at 11:11pm #

    Superb piece! Best I’ve read on this site!

  4. Annie Ladysmith said on November 6th, 2009 at 12:38am #

    I’M BACK! HI FOLKS! THE US GOV. IS THE WHORE OF THE ILLUMINATI! ‘FREEDOM’ WAS OVER IN 1860, if it trully ever existed.
    Warmongering is the right hand, and DEATH the left hand of the greedy for blood evil Illuminati stranglehold on the whole earth. DO NOT let them take your humanity and compassion and turn you into a soul-scalped automaton. DO NOT bow down to the god of this world and his 13 Illuminati tribes who rule the earth. DO THEY OWN YOU? DO NOT take their CHIP!

  5. Rehmat said on November 6th, 2009 at 4:28am #

    On October 9 – Barack Obama beat the other two US presidents who received Nobel Peace Prize just being in the White House womb for nine months without achieving peace in any of the foreign lands occupied by the US or its Zionist allies. The other two Presidents who received Nobel Peace Prize while waging wars for corporate lobby groups – were Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. What Obama and Roosevelt has common in addition to Nobel Prize – is that both have Jewish blood – though Zionists like us to believe that Iranian President Ahmadinejad, too, has Jewish roots.

    The other US Presidents, who did not receive the coveted prize -but are rumoured to be Jewish – include Abraham Lincoln (son of Nancy Hakenburger), Franklin D. Roosevelt (son of Dutch Jewish family by the name Rosefelt), Harry Truman, Eisenhower (son of a Swedish Jewish family), Lyndon Johnson, Bushes (good Nazi connections), etc……

    Obama: Nobel Prize but no Peace
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/obama-nobel-prize-but-no-peace/

  6. Don Hawkins said on November 6th, 2009 at 5:14am #

    I got up early this morning as usual and turned on the TV Fox News. 13 dead solders and 30 in the Hospital and Fox was talking about the Muslim connection of course and more troops to Afghanistan. Not much was said about these solders on there third and forth tour. They did say they will have a special on the climate bill that is bad for America and all done from the comfort of there studio. Pitting one side against another these people know how to do with illusion of knowledge well that being kind a very low level of thinking and bullshit. Get ready more on the way and last night on CNBC Jim Inhofe and another so called leader were on and Jimmy boy said the climate bill in the Senate was dead. Bad for America and the little people. How about a bill that did try like tax carbon and return part of the money to the little people would that pass? Well no and could only imagine what Fox or the people you see on CNBC would then say. Socialism the founding fathers are rolling over in there graves this isn’t American anymore what has happened to us. It appears that calm at peace the knowledge the real thing is there greatest enemy the truth. It also appears that the other countries on this planet a mote of dust third one from the Sun in the Milky Way Galaxy are willing to try on many different levels and the greatest nation on Earth.

    However, questioned on the role of the US he said the American position was “significant” in terms of the delay.

    President Obama has been unable to pass legislation through the Senate that would commit the US to cutting carbon emissions.

    “Copenhagen is one of the most important meetings in human history. It’s the best chance we’ve ever had to agree a deal to slash emissions and face down the threat of warming the planet, but the politicians seem determined to blow it.

    “The US is becoming a dead weight in these talks. Its position is driven by big fossil fuel interests. It is time for Europe to stand up not give up.”

    And of course

    WASHINGTON (Nov. 3) — Are America’s youth too fat, dumb or dishonest to defend the nation against its enemies?

    The latest Army statistics show a stunning 75 percent of military-age youth are ineligible to join the military because they are overweight, can’t pass entrance exams, have dropped out of high school or had run-ins with the law.

    So many young people between the prime recruiting ages of 17 and 24 cannot meet minimum standards that a group of retired military leaders is calling for more investment in early childhood education to combat the insidious effects of junk food and inadequate education. Sphere

    Fox News and there little gang the answer put them in jail reeducation camp. Well let’s see what happens in 2012 if this little gang get’s the power as the Earth and most life forms go down the drain in not such slow motion and there little answers for the little people. Wish I had better news but so far just more illusion and stupidity and hate. Calm at peace the knowledge the truth they the darkside don’t seem to like it much. Remember these people are anything but calm and at peace there nut’s.

  7. Don Hawkins said on November 6th, 2009 at 5:31am #

    One more little thing was Goldman and another little group get the swine flu vaccine I guess because they are so important to the World. Oh there important alright to themselves and a very few close friends.

  8. bozh said on November 6th, 2009 at 8:45am #

    As long as privately-owned healthcare providence is constitutional, it may not go away unless constitution is changed. In any case, that is the only change i believe in.
    Slavery is as much constitutional now as it had been for 2 0r 3 centuries. Privately-owned armies/enforcement agents are constitutionally guaranteed.

    Thus, privatization of US governance is inside that governance; i.e., it is systemic or part of one and the only rule. Slavery, torture, unlawful imprisonment, abductions, warfare are constitutional.
    Gov’ts, judiciary, cia, fbi, armed services {public-private} function as unit and under by-now-a-hallowed constitution.

    Even US constitution may be regarded as a private writ. It was written by feudal lords with feudal intentions meant to be interpreted by a judiciary.
    One party system is also constitutional.
    And judges are appointed by the same system; ensuring that the system endures for all time.

    So the task is to change the constitution from private ownership to public. It can be done only if 90%+ americans demand that constitution shld be emended to include banning all or much of private ownership of armies, information, spy agencies, media, mines, transportation, etc. tnx

  9. kris said on November 6th, 2009 at 5:34pm #

    Who cares if he was jewish?? what’s wrong with you retards?? Not all jews are evil just because there is an ideology which is — zionism(of which lobby happens to be powerful in Washington). Im going to give you people a tip, — which may save you your life if you use it thoroughly — download dictionary tooltip, an extension for firefox which lets you check the definition of words quickly by just doubleclicking words and hovering your mouse over the icon that appears. Now, the next time you don’t understand a word or a sentence; don’t just continue reading because youre too lazy to look it up. Check the definition, reread the sentence — whatever is needed, THEN you can comment and sound halfway intelligent. Perhaps go to a psychologist and insist on a treatment with proven effects(sadly, not all methods in psychology have this) and fix yourself first(Rehmat and Don Hawkins you seem to need this…) before you comment.

  10. Obstreperous said on November 6th, 2009 at 5:39pm #

    What does a discussion of the fornications of ancestors have to do with anything?
    What do General Assembly votes on ANYTHING have to do with anything?
    Is the US at war? Yes.
    Are all US wars a good idea? Clearly no.
    Should we ever be at war? No, is the popular answer here, but not being at war EVER means dying or having to later go to war FOR your conqueror. So the circuitous presentations of “we should not be at war” seem a pointless waste of infospace when a simple “No war, not ever, not for any reason.” will suffice.

  11. Don Hawkins said on November 6th, 2009 at 6:27pm #

    A psychotic thinks that two and two are five.
    A neurotic knows two and two are four — but he hates it.

  12. kalidas said on November 6th, 2009 at 8:25pm #

    It’s Hell being a dissident in semi-dissident occupied territory.

  13. Don Hawkins said on November 7th, 2009 at 5:14am #

    Let’s cut the crap so to speak. The temperatures at the top of this planet, Earth are right now 7 to 9 degrees above what foolish human’s have been used to to build the shinning city on the hill. We are still putting CO 2 into the atmosphere at about 10,000 times the natural rate and that goes back in millions of years. We are all in deep shit and what’s the big plan. In real terms there is no plan. In the greatest nation on Earth the cap and trade plan is a joke and probably not even pass and if it does watered down to keep special people happy sort of as they seem never to be happy that more part. By 2015 we will all see temperature spikes and up North those temperatures will double in a blink of an eye in human terms we are in deep trouble. It appears that the powers that be are right now making plans for themselves as for the rest of us well listen to your leaders and watch your parking meters. It is already to late for the North and the sea ice next is the land ice and the South. Of course not climate but weather patterns for the Northern Hemisphere are already changing and more on the much more and crops very hard to grow to late and extreme weather the norm. The part right now I find amazing is as the economy Capitalism falls apart as it is now the few are trying with success to hold on to it. Wall Street and that little gang are doing just fine and as usual the few on Wall Street and a few close friends Worldwide are doing real well sort of. There is still time maybe to slow the little problem down about 8 years now and again to late for very tuff times ahead if you don’t happen to be in the group, gang with a small private army and just maybe not so private. There are a few who do want to try and so far it appears with no success. In just a few months we get to see then what? Yes then what. A little something called control from the comfort of the studio and back room as we listen to more illusion. The best minds we have who want to try will not stay silent and this is not over and to me the only way is calm at peace the truth the knowledge right in there face. The darkside with there illusion and money/debt and power is just that an illusion. Yes it will take a Herculean effort and very hard choices for all of us. Think of this as kind of a war that Hansen wrote a few years back was right on the money. It has to be that kind of focus total and a new way of thinking it can be done calm at peace the truth the knowledge it’s the darksides worst enemy. It’s not the way the World work’s but what it can be and for the first part if we try not easy but tuff. Without a try yes tuff and just think we can listen to Fox New’s tell us what to think as we go down the drain in not such slow motion because that’s just the way the World work’s, wrong. What is it that many people say that World war two brought us out of the great depression well this time kind of a War and not so much out of the depression but a new way of thinking and to survive. Oh it’s not that serious oh yes it is. It appears the few from the darkside like to think this is over even after Copenhagen and the crap and trade bill I don’t think so but we are about to find out calm at peace the truth the knowledge as the darkside not doing that can’t be real good for the head.

  14. Mary said on November 11th, 2009 at 7:17am #

    the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month….

    Last Post
    Carol Ann Duffy

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
    If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
    that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud . . .
    but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood
    run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
    see lines and lines of British boys rewind
    back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home —
    mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers
    not entering the story now
    to die and die and die.
    Dulce — No — Decorum — No — Pro patria mori.
    You walk away.
    You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet)
    like all your mates do too —
    Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert —
    and light a cigarette.
    There’s coffee in the square,
    warm French bread
    and all those thousands dead
    are shaking dried mud from their hair
    and queuing up for home. Freshly alive,
    a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released
    from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.
    You lean against a wall,
    your several million lives still possible
    and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food.

    You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile.
    If poetry could truly tell it backwards,
    then it would.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    There are now no survivors from the trenches of WWI in the UK.

    Armistice Day 2009